FIREFIGHTERS came under attack from youths throwing fireworks as they dealt with multiple fires and false alarms in County Durham on bonfire night.

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS) said in Peterlee, members of Blue Watch were faced with fireworks thrown at their fire engine as they attempted to extinguish a tyre fire

On two further occasions crews, again in Peterlee and Seaham, were faced with verbal abuse as they tried to deal with incidents.

CDDFRS community risk management group manager Graeme Metcalf said: “I am saddened to hear that certain groups of people think it is acceptable to attack our crews, while they are attempting to deal with multiple incidents across the county.

"Last night the attacks seemed to be towards the east coast, but last week a crew from Spennymoor had fireworks thrown at them while attempting to extinguish a house fire in Bishop Auckland.

"These individuals endanger the lives of our dedicated firefighters who come to work every day to protect the community.”

The attacks came as CDDFRS reported seeing an almost 40 per cent reduction in fires and a 34 per cent reduction in calls, compared to this time last year.

In 2018, the service attended 58 fires on bonfire night, compared to 32 this year and their control room have taken 116 calls, compared to 175 in 2018.

Community risk management group manager Graeme Metcalf said: “Last night was still extremely busy for our crews and our control room, however, it is encouraging to see this reduction, not only when looking at the demand on our service, but most importantly for the communities we serve.

“We have heavily invested in arson reduction over the last twelve months, with the newly-formed arson reduction team working in partnership with operational fire crews delivering challenge sessions with youth groups, school engagement. "

"They also work with our communications team to share messages through social media campaigns, which the service believes have all contributed to a significant reduction in fires this year. However we obviously can’t discount the inclement weather conditions and it’s effect on the number of incidents last night.”

Anyone with information regarding deliberate fires or attacks on firefighters should contact Durham Police on 101 or FireStoppers, anonymously, on 0800 169 5558.